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Disaster displacement, one of the biggest humanitarian challenges of the 21st century.

Hurricane season is on. The floodwaters have receded, but you still hear the sound of your house being torn apart by the wind while waves crash at your doorstep. Your neighborhood is devastated and your home destroyed. Your ability to make a living is wiped out overnight. Humanitarian assistance is insufficient. Your child needs urgent medical care, but no functioning hospital remains.

This scenario is improbable in some regions of the world, but it is a reality for many people in all hemispheres.

Every year, millions of people are forced to leave their homes because of floods, tropical storms, droughts, melting glaciers, earthquakes and other natural hazards. Many find refuge within their own country, but some have to move abroad. While some movement is well documented, the total number is unknown. Present international law does not provide a right to admission and stay for those fleeing to another country. Scientists warn that climate change is projected to increase displacement in the future, both internally and across borders. Displacement has devastating effects on people and communities. It creates complex humanitarian and development challenges that urgently call for partnerships and action.

Since the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, international recognition of the role that disasters, adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation have on population movement, has grown. The topic has been addressed in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the 2016 Agenda for Humanity, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 2015 Paris Agreement that established the Task Force on Displacement (TFD), and most recently, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and Global Compact on Refugees (GCR). These agreements recognize the need for cross-sectoral, coordinated action to address the diverse and region-specific challenges of human mobility in the context of disasters and climate change.


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